Dec 31

Packing Up

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It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over, and it is almost the new year, so you start doing lots of reflecting on the previous year. I tend to do that when I pack up all of my Christmas decorations, and it always makes me emotional. Each ornament has a story and a memory attached to it, so I always have a love/hate relationship with packing it all up. It feels good to get my house back in order and all tidy again, but ever since last year I feel like I pack a little piece of myself up each year in those plastic Christmas boxes.

2014 brought lots of happiness to our family with our sweet little William. We started some new traditions with our little buddy, and it was such a fun year to meet him and continue to watch him grow into the sweet baby that God has created him to be. My parents did something so thoughtful this year, and they created an advent basket for W filled with a new ornament for each day in December, and a verse that went with it. We opened one each night, and had a sweet family moment reading the story of Jesus birth to our baby boy. My family’s tradition when we were little was that we each had a special tree in our room with our own ornaments, so W will always have these each year to put on his own tree.

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With all of these sweet times, I still began to cry as I closed up that last box. It’s our last Christmas in our little condo that we have called home for almost 6 years now, and it could be our last Christmas in Auburn. As tears continued to fall from my face, I told D that I feel like I lose Mary Anna more everyday. When I pack up these memories, it is a constant reminder that she is not here.

Her stocking was hung by the chimney with care, but little Mary Anna still was not here this year. And she won’t be here next year or the next or the next. And it just never stops hurting.

Our William brought a new light this year, but my friends, it does not mean that our grief miraculously ended. In some ways this Christmas was harder than last, because we realized what all we miss with her not here. As people would say things to us this year, they had no idea how even though W was in our arms that we were/are still in a lot of pain.

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I saw it in a new way in my Granny’s eyes this year. As I looked at her I realized why each Christmas she seems a little bit more down than she did the year before, because it’s another year that she has to live without my PawPaw by her side. I get that ache now.

So as the boxes are almost all put away, and as we close this chapter, here’s to another year. Another year of learning how to Keep Walking without our Mary Anna. When we pack up the miracle of Christmas, we do not have to pack up the hope in Christmas. Jesus came in the form of a tiny baby to save us.

And although I saw the pain of Christmas in my Granny’s eyes, I saw the joy of Christmas in my baby boy’s eyes, because looking at him this year gave me a whole new glimpse of how Mary looked at her baby Jesus. Thank you Mary Anna for never letting us forget what life is about, and thank you William for teaching me more about Jesus everyday. And thank you to my Savior for the gift of my babies. They’re my joy and my reason to celebrate!

Happy New Year everyone!

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May 2015 bring you much laughter and joy!
Keep Walking.

Dec 29

Come Thou Fount

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.

I love singing to my baby boy. It is a treasure to my soul. There are so many opinions today on rocking your baby to sleep vs. self-soothing, and I land in the middle of the debate. One of the reasons is because I treasure picking up my baby W and holding his whole little body in my arms and singing rich hymns to him.

Now let me tell you, it has challenged my knowledge of hymns that I thought that I knew so well. I am convinced now to learn all the words to the songs that I thought I knew, so that W will not sing the wrong words in church one day!

Dan on the other hand always sings the wrong words to EVERY song. Now we try not to use words like “always” and “every” and “never” in our house, but I am pretty sure that I have never heard D sing a song from start to finish without messing up a line or word or two or three. hehe. Therefore, he wrote a song for W when he was a tiny little guy so now he never misses a line. score.

All of this to say, I have taken some time away from my writing to be with family and friends over the holidays and process my baby boy’s first Christmas. And as I was rocking little W for his nap just now, I started to sing our favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, to him and the words hit me.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

I am so prone to wander. But I am so thankful that my heart has been sealed for the courts above. So I lay my baby boy down after I sing these words to him, and I pray for his heart to be sealed for the courts above too, and then I let him sleep.

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Dec 02

Thankful?

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We spent our Thanksgiving at the beach again this year, and it was a much-needed get away! D and I always feel rejuvenated after time by the sea, in our favorite spot, and near our baby girl. We got to soak up beautiful pink sunsets like this one, and as tears still filled our eyes missing her so deeply, we felt a little bit more peaceful this year with baby W in our arms.

D and I snuck away for a coffee date, lunch date, and a few walks on the beach. We sat by the water with William, watched him sit up on his own for the first time, enjoyed watching my grandmother (91) love on him, and lots of family snuggles! We had our hard moments missing Mary Anna and knowing now what a Thanksgiving looks like with a baby made this year better and worse all at the same time.

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As we finished our meal on Thursday, Dan had such an insightful point as the “black Friday” emails began. He said: What is wrong with us that as soon as we spend all day saying how “thankful” that we are, we immediately start planning to go buy more things that we don’t need. I just think black Friday is a terrible idea. Spot on D.

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Isaiah 55:1-2

I pondered a lot this trip about our traditions that I want to start with William. As we have gotten settled back in and started preparing our hearts during this Advent season, I want W to remember our holidays full of time together, love, laughter, and good food, not that he got a new pair of shoes for 70% off. May we take this season and refocus back on what is important with those we love and those we have lost.

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Keep Walking. Together.